Celebrating Nightingale 2020 Bicentenary

Florence Nightingale 200 years

The Covid-19 Virus

We are celebrating this upcoming year – the Bicentenary of Florence Nightingale across the world. Various groups have organized to determine the best to recognize her… within the limits now placed on us.

Our website is dedicated to sharing with you our activities,various opinions and that of others for 2020; and of course information vital to understanding Nightingale and how she influenced nursing is highlighted.

As front-line nurses and health professionals we have faced many challenges and adversities including staff shortages, violence/bullying, uncertain work and safety conditions, and wage imbalances. But it seems this current pandemic has engulfed us, as it is out of our control and still spiraling.

We salute those of you who are bravely working in health care presently and at great personal risk. Be vigilant and be kind in your delivery of care – together this virus will be defeated. 

“Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day.
Florence Nightingale
(Nightingale was a strong advocate for infection control)

Who Is Florence Nightingale

  • Activist and pioneer in Nursing
  • Born in 1820 in Florence, Italy
  • Established the first nursing school worldwide in London, England
  • A mentor and role model in Nursing
  • Author,  systems thinker and pioneer public health reformer

Read more…


The Nightingale 2020 Team

Anne Clark RN

Retired Nurse and former ONA Board member

Nightingale Authority


Carolyn Edgar RN

Retired Nurse

Student in labour Studies -McMaster University


Cristina Buco RN

Frontline Nurse at PMH

Return to Work at
local 097


Eleanor Adarna RN

TGH Site Rep

Local 97 Executive Secretary Health and Safety Lead Rep


In Collaboration with Dr. Lynn McDonald Professor Emerita

Lynn is an author of several books on Nightingale-most recently; Florence Nightingale, Nursing, and Health Care Today and the Collected Works of Nightingale. She is also a climate activist, prison reformer and former Member of Parliament. You can connect with her for more information on Nightingale in Backgrounders at www.nightingalesociety.com. She is cofounder and current chair of The Nightingale Society and has been a great support and inspiration to us throughout the last year. We do connect with her and other nursing colleagues from California and Ohio on a regular basis- sharing ideas on how best to recognize and promote Nightingale.

Service of The Word

January 26, 2020, First Evangelical Lutheran Church. 116 Bond St., Toronto, ON

Commemoration of Florence Nightingale on the Bicentenary of her birth by Lynn McDonald

Carolyn Edgar attended the above service on behalf of Team Nightingale 2020 and found Lynn’s sermon to be very moving and timely in celebrating Nightingale’s Bicentenary.

Lynn McDonald is a professor emerita in Sociology at the University of Guelph. She is the director of the 16-volume Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, and several shorter books on her, including one published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Four of the volumes in her series are on Nightingale’s faith: her Biblical annotations, personal reflections and prayers, her translation of the mystics, sermons and correspondence with leading Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Lynn is also a former Member of Parliament and served as president of the Nation- al Action Committee on the Status of Women. She is currently active on climate change (JustEarth) and on solitary confinement (a campaign to abolish it). 

Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing. Despite family pressures to marry and live as a conventional wealthy woman, she considered her dedication to nursing to be a response to the call of God to care for the sick. Her success in radically lowering the death rate of wounded soldiers in the Crimean War led to society’s acceptance of her proposals for better sanitation and nutrition, accurate medical knowledge, and professionally trained nurses.

1820 – born in Florence, Italy, to a wealthy British family (May 12)
1837, 1850 – felt calls from God to dedicate her life to nursing as a single woman
1850 – visited Pastor Theodor Fliedner’s Lutheran deaconess community
1853 – worked as superintendent of a women’s hospital
1854-55 – served as director of nursing in army hospitals in the Crimean War
1860 – organized a nurses’ training school in London, England
1910 – died in London (August 13)

Download Entire Commemoration Service Agenda Here

Who was Florence Nightingale and why does she matter now? by Lynn McDonald

Nightingale was the major founder of the modern profession of nursing, and health care pioneer, who became famous for leading the first team of British women to nurse in war–the Crimean War of 1854-56.

The Bicentenary of her birth (May 20, 1820) will be celebrated in 2020, we hope not just for Nursing Week, but throughout the year, with a new look at her key ideas and the relevance today.

While Nightingale was famous in her lifetime, and for a long time after it, she is little known today and often misrepresented. She wrote a lot! Not just her most famous book, Notes on Nursing; published in 1860, the same year that her training school opened.

So, here are some key points on her work and legacy: 

  • Nightingale wanted nursing to be an independent profession; nurses would take medical instructions from doctors, but no doctor would hire, fire, discipline or promote a nurse, decisions for senior nurses. 
  • Her vision for the profession included a career path, with increases in salary and responsibility, and made nursing a well-paying profession. Giving superintendents power to hire, discipline, etc., was to remove it from doctors, then 100% male when nurses were 100% female, and an unspoken measure to prevent sexual harassment of vulnerable women nurses. 
  • Nightingale consistently argued for good salaries and working conditions for nurses, holidays of at least a month per year; decent pensions; good living conditions uring training; and hospital design to save nurses’ energy for patient care. Hospitals should hire cleaners, and nurses ensure that the job was done. 
  • “Army nurses,” before Nightingale’s time, were recruited from among the wives and widows of privates and non-commissioned officers (doctors were always officers), were paid less than cooks and laundresses, and reported to a sergeant. They did not even speak to a doctor. The belief that Nightingale wanted nurses to be “subordinate to doctors” misses the point, for when her nursing school started, in 1860, women lacked even a high school education, let alone university. Doctors had university/medical qualifications.) 
  • Nightingale succeeded in improving the status of nurses, from being a “domestic” service occupation in the 1861 Census, to being grouped with “medicine” in 1901 In the army, nurses became “officers,” like doctors. 
  • She did pioneering work on occupational health and safety as early as 1858. In 1871, she published a pioneering study of maternal mortality post-childbirth, Introductory Notes on Lying-in Institutions. Throughout her life, she worked with doctors, architects, engineers and statisticians to achieve great reforms. 
  • Nightingale worked to turn the terrible workhouse infirmaries into real hospitals, calling for the same quality of care available to the rich also for the poor. 
  • Hand washing is the single most effective means of infection control known–Nightingale began urging it in 1860. Hospital architects are turning back to Nightingale for her insights on sunlight and gardens in healing. 

Her writing is now available in a 16-volume Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, collected from more than 200 archives worldwide.

Don’t want a 16-volume series? See the 200-page paperback with highlights: Lynn McDonald, Florence Nightingale at First Hand (London: Bloomsbury 2010) and Florence Nightingale, Nursing and Health Care Today (New York: Springer, 2018) 267 pages.

For short articles on what Nightingale actually said and wrote see: https://www.uoguelph.ca/~cwfn/short/index.htm.

For short backgrounders, links, and other resources, see https://www.nightingalesociety.com.

Our Bookmark:


This bookmark will be available on request. We look forward to sharing it with you.

For More Information Contact:

Anne Clark RN

Carolyn Edgar RN

Cristina Buco RN

Eleanor Adarna RN